by Brian McMahonDan Keane of Carrueragh occupies a rare place in the esteem, admiration and affection of North Kerry people for very many reasons. His genial personality, his racy-of-the-soil competence as a Master of Ceremonies on festive occasions, his sensitivity as a poet and balladmaker, all mark, and indeed hallmark him, as a true son of his environment and one in complete harmony with the rural background from which he sprang.
Rhyming is in his blood. On one side, his great-grandfather William Moore
of Clounbrane, Moyvane, was close kin to Thomas Moore, the National
Poet of Ireland, whose father hailed from that townland; on the other
side his great-grand-uncle, Andy McMahon, of Tubbertoureen, also appears
in local folklore as a poet. Both great-grandsires were evicted from
their farms in the dark days of the fight for agrarian freedom.
His only education was on primary school level at Knockanure, where the name O’Callaghan figured prominently in the roster of his teachers.
Having left school before reaching fourteen, he worked for eleven years as a farmer’s boy, all the while educating himself by every means available to him. This dedication to self-education was rewarded by his appointment as an Insurance Representative, a post which brought him into contact with a wide circle of people in North Kerry and beyond.
His poetry reflects the thoughts, reactions and experiences of this simple yet complex life-style.
Every reader will have his or her favourite pieces among the poems that follow. They reveal a spirit highly attuned to the joys and sorrows of the people amongst whom the poet spent his life. Some like “Daybreak O’er Rathea” cry out to be set to music while others like the whimsical “The Cruel Deed” should find a place in any anthology of poetry for children. Others have a religious or social resonance so that each facet of human emotion is accurately portrayed.
It is a pleasure for me to go before him and ring a bell to call attention to the merits of a rare and poetic spirit.
Poems by Dan Keane